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    1831 Capped Bust Quarter, PR66
    Only Certified Small Letters B-1 Proof
    Recently Discovered in Europe

    1831 25C Small Letters PR66 NGC. CAC. B-1, R.8 as a proof. The innovative close collar technology was introduced on the quarter denomination in 1831, resulting in coins with beaded borders and a reduced diameter. Because there was no change in weight or composition, the new coins used thicker planchets to compensate for the smaller diameter. This caused some problems with striking quality. Chief Engraver William Kneass adjusted the design in many small ways in order to achieve the best-possible strike, including removing the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM from the reverse. Four obverse and five reverse dies were combined to strike the seven known die varieties of the date. Six varieties were classified as B-1 through B-6 by Ard Browning in his early series reference and the rare B-7 variety was discovered by later researchers.

    Exactly which dies were used for proof coinage is in some dispute. Walter Breen listed coins of the B-1, B-2, B-4 and B-5 varieties which he believed were proof examples in his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins. Of particular interest to the present description, he noted about the Browning 1 variety, "ANS. One or two others reported, not traced." David Akers challenged Breen's attribution of the four proof varieties in his description of the 1831 proof quarter in lot 1286 of the Pittman catalog, where he stated:

    "Although others feel differently, it is my opinion that the only true Proofs of this date are this B-5 variety. Highly prooflike examples exist of other varieties, mostly B-2, and some of these pieces have incorrectly been called Proofs in the past, but they are very different in appearance from the specimens of this variety which have unquestioned Proof status."

    Akers provided a roster of the seven B-5 proof quarters he was aware of. Since the time of the Pittman sale, third party grading services have certified a few specimens of the B-4 variety as proofs, as well as the B-5 coins Akers considered true proofs, seeming to confirm Breen's assertion, at least in part. We believe the present coin is the first example of a B-1 1831 proof quarter to be certified by either of the leading grading services.

    Proof 1831 quarters began appearing at auction as early as the Joseph J. Mickley Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1867), where lot 1710 was a four-piece silver proof set described as, "1831 Four pieces, Half, Quarter, Dime and Half Dime; all brilliant, extremely rare." The lot realized $8.50 to J.N.T. Levick. No study of die varieties had been attempted at the time of the Mickley sale, and it is not possible to determine which variety Mickley's coin represented. Recent sales of the 1831 proof quarter include the spectacular PR66 Cameo NGC specimen in lot 3736 of the FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2009), which realized $218,500.

    This magnificent Premium Gem was acquired by a European nobleman during his travels in this country in the mid-19th century. Much like the coins in the famous Lord St. Oswald Collection, this piece has been preserved by the nobleman's family down to the present time. Delicate shades of cerulean-blue and greenish-gold toning blanket the pristine surfaces of this delightful specimen. The design elements are sharply detailed in most areas, but some stars on the left have incomplete centrils. The fields are deeply reflective, but the toning reduces what would otherwise be bold cameo contrast with the frosty design elements. A long reverse die crack extends from the lower leaves through the eagle's wing and the letters of UNITED STATES. Eye appeal is terrific. Census: 1 in 66, 0 finer (2/14). (NGC ID# 23SB, PCGS# 5378)

    Weight: 6.74 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2014
    21st-23rd Friday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,902

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